• Sarah S.

Tips To Better Rent A Vacation Home

Updated: Jan 11

A professional traveler’s insight for hosts

We have been exploring our beautiful USA in a 4-door sedan and staying at vacation rentals for about 1 year and counting. Most stays for us are generally about 1 month in length and have been as long as 2 months.


We work remotely from home, we roadschool and live like we would in a stationary home. This means we cook all our meals, go to the grocery store, do laundry, clean, occasionally receive mail and packages, and live like locals.


We have learned a lot about being a guest at these rentals, getting to know various styles of hosts, levels of care to the homes, decor, and personal touches that do or don’t go into each place. We’ve met the neighbors and cared for these places as if they were our own homes.


Accordingly, I feel qualified to offer a list to hosts to make their vacation properties more desirable to guests.


The following is my own personal list that I feel would better enhance your place and give you insight if you are either new or unsure about what to equip in your rental. So without further ado:

Ax The Bare Walls

I am definitely deterred by a home that has no wall art, wall decor, or anything that gives you a homey feel. We love art and nothing feels colder than a home with nothing on the walls.


Don’t stop there, throw pillows and blankets around or on the couches and chairs looks comfortable and are nice when you just want to relax. They really add a touch of softness.

The Great Outdoors

One of my favorite ways to get some quiet time, write, or bask in the sun is to have an outdoor space to enjoy.


I go out of my way to find homes with either a balcony, patio, or backyard. Additionally, I am looking for a nice table, chairs, loungers, or anything that gives it a cozy vibe.


You know what I am getting at here, I have seen places with one broken plastic chair in the backyard.

It Is A Digital World

This is hit and miss in the vacation rental world, but when you hit, you feel like you won the lottery, let me explain.


We work on the road and school two children. Internet especially hi-speed WIFI is of the utmost importance before we book any rental. The very first question we message the host before ever booking is “what is your internet speed?” My advice here…


Know your upload and download speeds. You pay for it, you should be privy to that knowledge. You can contact your provider, check your current bill, or go to your web browser (ie: Google) and type “internet speed test,” click “run speed test,” and it gives the speeds to download and upload.


Unfortunately, we have had to turn down many great rentals because of either sub-par internet speeds, or hosts that didn’t know or care to research it. In our opinion, fiber optics provides the fastest speed, but hi-speed cable works, too.

Outfitting For A Tech-Savvy World


I highly recommend at least one, even 2 desks and an office chair. Even if someone is on a vacation, they may not want to sit on their bed or the dining table to use their devices. The second desk can be as simple as just a portable, foldable card table as an option.


Also appreciated are extra USBs, like those built into lamps or bedside tables, HDMI cable, etc.


Another bonus that makes my heart sing is a blue-tooth speaker. It’s a total benefit to be able to pair my music with a nice full-bodied sound.

What’s Missing in the Kitchen?!


Most are self-explanatory so I’m just going to give you the list. Note, we’ve had to buy a lot of these items because they were not provided by the host. Certain things can be purchased at a dollar store, such as Dollar Tree, even BBQ tools.


Sharp kitchen knives, please!


Brita water filter, if there is no built-in fridge filter


Wine bottle opener


Whisk (2)


Spatulas (more than 1)


Rubber spatula


Plates (at least 12)


Tongs


Liquid measuring cups (1-2)


Dry measuring cups


Mixing spoons (at least 4)


Grill tools (minimum spatula & cleaner/scraper brush if you provide a grill.


Colander & Sieve


Cutting board (a few plastic ones are fine)


Food storage containers (for leftovers)


Napkin holder


Pizza cutter


Ice cream scooper


Lighter/ignitor


Toaster oven or toaster


Blender


Mixing bowls (various sizes)


Coffee Pot


8×8 pan


Loaf pan


13x9x2 pan


Muffin pan


Baking sheets


Dish towels (minimum of 2)


Potholders & Oven mitts


Have basics on hand, garbage bags, dish soap, toiletries, sponges, etc.

Bathroom Basics


Blow dryer


Standing cosmetic mirror


More than the bare minimum of bath towels, hand towels, & washcloths.


Extra hooks in the bathroom for towels, clothes, etc

Miscellaneous

Umbrella (1-2) if you are in a rainy climate


Clothes drying rack


Iron and ironing board


Basic toolset-Allen wrenches, tape measurer, screwdrivers, etc.


Have equipment for amenities at your home: pool towels if you have a pool onsite,

tennis balls & racquets if there is a tennis court, a basketball if there are courts.


Label! This is ingenious. Grab a label machine and label light switches (like fan, standing lamp, etc). Label the garbage disposal switch. Special drawers that hold games or other odds and ends.


Provide cleaning supplies, especially on specialty appliances like stainless steel appliance cleaner or smooth top range cleaner. Wouldn’t you prefer guests to have easy access to clean your home and use products you approve of?


Provide a mop & bucket or Swiffer mop, vacuum, broom & dustpan (preferably stick dustpan), rags, toilet bowl brush, a plunger in each bathroom. This helps to keep your place tidy (if you haven’t guessed already, I am a neat freak)!


Desk fans for light sleepers or those that need extra air (each bedroom).


Nice extras include paper/pens, games, books, puzzles, cards, etc.


Please do not schedule construction during a booking! Block time out between guests for home maintenance.


In your guest welcome book, have a sheet where you ask for comments or feedback from your guests. Every little bit of advice will assist you in fine-tuning and making your place that much better.

Final Food for Thought


Please be aware of how important the photos are that you display on rental sites. They can really make or break someone booking your rental. For example, If I see 3-5 photos I move on.


I want to see all the rooms, a nice view of the kitchen, all bedrooms (with bedding and nicely made beds, please). I have seen photos with no bedding or unmade beds with clothes all over them. Photos of all bathrooms, laundry area, living room, backyard, front yard, etc. Be a show-off, your home is the product you are selling.


Hopefully, these tips will help you get a higher occupancy rate and improve your guest rating. Thank you for allowing me to offer you my insights.


For additional tips, I really enjoyed Lodgify’s article by Lisa Hagemeister, Must-Have Amenities for Every Vacation Rental Home.


If you would like more information about our travels please visit my site.


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